3D-printed concrete houses

At the end of May 2018, the plans for the first 3D-concrete printed house were presented in Eindhoven. Together with the municipality of Eindhoven, TU Eindhoven, Van Wijnen, Vesteda and Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix, Witteveen+Bos wants to build the first liveable house that will roll out of the printer this year. The house will be the first of five houses made of 3D printed concrete, which will be built in the coming years in the new Eindhoven district Meerhoven. The project was named Milestone, in keeping with the meaning and design of the houses. The partners will sign the cooperation agreement for this during Provada 2018.

3D printing in concrete is an innovation that has the potential to radically change the future of (residential) construction in terms of affordability, sustainability, speed, form and choice. The five Eindhoven homes will actually be put into use and that is a world first. This means, among other things, that the homes must meet the current building regulations and the requirements that today's residents set for things such as layout, comfort, affordability and quality. In the spring of 2019, the first affordable 3D printed rental home will be habitable.

Eliminating the paper phase
Witteveen+Bos is closely involved in the development of this innovation and is one of the initiators of Milestone. Theo Salet is innovation leader at Witteveen+Bos and as professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, one of the leaders in the field of 3D concrete printing: 'What is still not much talked about in all reports about this project, is that 3D concrete printing is actually just one example of something much bigger, namely the far-reaching digitisation of the building industry. The printer eliminates the paper phase between the design and the construction, allowing the BIM design to be realised automatically. That makes a huge difference in failure costs and material use. It's strange that we still have to flatten those super-complex BIM designs in paper construction drawings before we can start building, isn't it?'

3D concrete printing is actually just one example of something much bigger, namely the far-reaching digitisation of the building industry.

Theo Salet

Real-time innovation
The houses in the project will be built one after the other, with research into the technology still under development. This means that every new home can benefit from advancing insights and knowledge. For example, the first detached house will be a ground floor house printed off-site. The next house must have two floors. For the cooperating partners, however, Milestone is not to be seen as an experiment. They see the development as an extensive innovation that can be disruptive to the (residential) construction sector. After all, concrete is the most widely used building material in the world.

Press attention
The launch of the plans generated a lot of press attention both nationally and internationally. For example, Dutch broadcaster NOS made a clarifying animation of it, the claim that it is a world first was invoiced by Dutch national newspaper NRC and the artist impressions were shown by broadcasters such as CNN and BBC and websites such as those of The Guardian or the New York Post. The reaction form on the special project website www.3dprintedhouse.nl also receives little rest; requests from far and wide are received for cooperation, project visits, purchase of the houses/design, etcetera. Besides the special construction technique, the megalith-like forms, designed by architect Houben/Van Mierlo, also clearly appeal to the imagination.

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